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|“||Do you like hurting other people?||„|
|~ Richard questioning Jacket's capacity for violence.|
|“||So this is what the end looks like... ...Beautiful.||„|
|~ Jacket's inner thoughts after wiping out the Russian Mafia in the Digital Comic.|
Jacket, also known as The Mask Maniac, is the central character of the indie top-down shooter video game series Hotline Miami. He serves as the main protagonist of Hotline Miami and a recurring character in its sequel Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, as well as returning as a playable character in the game's Level Editor. Throughout the series, Jacket does not speak a single line of dialogue.
Originally part of a US special forces unit known as the Ghost Wolves during the Hawaiian Conflict, Jacket eventually signs up for a patriotic movement known as 50 Blessings three years after the death of his best friend and comrade, Nicke. Soon after, through strange phone calls left on his answering machine, Jacket takes on several jobs which involve killing many criminals tied to the Russian Mafia and donning several animal masks along the way, all while seemingly losing his grip on reality.
As a silent protagonist, much of Jacket's character is either up to player interpretation through the series' events, or simply a mystery most of the time. One thing for certain though is that Jacket is mentally disturbed, dangerous, and an all-around homicidal maniac who brings bloodshed wherever he goes. Through his killing sprees, Jacket is shown to be shockingly brutal and uncompromising when murdering Russian mobsters or those who have wronged him. Judging by Richard's commentary, it is heavily implied that deep down, Jacket is a man who enjoys "hurting other people" on an instinctive level and never shakes away this bloodlust until he finally decides to stop fighting. By ceasing his habit of collecting newspaper clippings of his crimes, Jacket even seems to take his mind off of figuring out the truth behind the phone calls once he gets used to being sent on killing sprees, until his girlfriend is killed by those responsible for the phone calls.
Much of his more violent behavior may stem from his views on Russians: not only did he fight against the Russians during the Hawaii Conflict as a special forces operative, but the man who saved his life in the war, Nicke, perished in the nuclear bombing of San Francisco carried out by the Soviet Union. He also signs up to 50 Blessings' newsletter, perhaps harboring a form of prejudice towards Russia. Furthermore, Jacket is disgusted with himself to the point of vomiting when he kills the Bum: a homeless man unaffiliated with Russian targets, who was otherwise trying to defend himself in an alleyway from Jacket. However, as time goes on, Jacket seems to lose his reluctance to kill non-Russians when he starts butchering police officers in cold blood for merely standing in his way.
Although Richard warns Jacket that he will be the only one to blame for his own actions and will never learn the truth behind the phone calls, Jacket's motives seem to be entirely driven by revenge: he wipes out the Russian Mafia to avenge the death of Nicke; he sought out Richter as payback for killing his girlfriend, indifferent towards the amount of police officers he kills just to corner Richter; and tries to seek out those he felt were responsible for the phone calls and the murder of his girlfriend, despite getting evidence mixed up and never truly punishing the ones who were really behind his woes: The Janitors. Once he finally slaughters the Russian Mafia's leadership, Jacket seems to find some solace in his victory, tossing the photo of him and Nicke in Hawaii from the mansion's balcony as a sign of avenging the deaths of Nicke and his girlfriend, and, following his arrest, seems to give up on fighting.
Brutal nature aside, Jacket does possess human qualities outside of being a destructive killing machine. He genuinely cares for a small amount of people present in his life: his best friend Nicke and the Girl. On top of seemingly being driven to avenge Nicke, Jacket appears to be grateful towards Nicke for saving his life; keeps a photograph of him and Nicke as a memento; seeking his comfort when he endures a recent breakup; and frequently sees Nicke in his dreams while he is comatose. The Girl is a young woman Jacket seems to grow a soft spot for after a merciful side of him decides to save her and nurse her back to health after killing the perverted Producer, who kept her captive and likely sexually assaulted her. In return, the Girl ends up cleaning up Jacket's house, living with him and eventually sharing beds with him, subtly revealing intimacy. Another time Jacket seems to show mercy is when he chooses to spare Richter after the man reveals he only killed the Girl after being threatened into doing it by the mysterious phone calls. Through this, Jacket perhaps realizes that Richter is just as much of a victim of the phone calls as he is. During more peaceful moments of his life, Jacket seems to keep himself occupied with a small amount of hobbies: he is a chain-smoker, owns a video game console at home and, throughout his incarceration, regularly plays with a green stress ball. His signature letterman jacket also implies that he had a history of taking part in athletic sports.
Jacket is man assumed to be in his late twenties to early thirties, with medium long blonde parted hair. During his time in Hawaii as a soldier, he sports a typical dark green outfit while wearing large backpack. In 1989, he wears his signature yellowish-brown and white letterman jacket, a white shirt underneath it, a pair of jeans, and, during his jobs for 50 Blessings, a wide variety of rubber animal masks (most notably a rooster mask, a tiger mask, and a pig mask). During his time in hospital after getting shot by Richter, Jacket wears a blue hospital gown and bandages over his head. Following his arrest, Jacket is seen wearing a typical orange jump suit and, during his trial, wears a navy blue suit and a green shirt underneath.
Jacket is extremely versatile in combat, being able to ruthlessly kill dozens of mobsters with whatever means necessary in any given situation. He is quick on his feet; capable of using many different weapons or objects improvised as weapons to his advantage, whether it be through melee attacks or throwing; can use firearms very well thanks to his past military experience; and is physically strong.
On top of being able to perform a variety of brutal executions on knocked down mobsters, Jacket can also execute mobsters while they are standing up by running into one by surprise and tearing out their throat. With specific guns (mostly one-handed guns), Jacket can also take knocked down mobsters hostage and use them as human shields to avoid getting shot. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor, most of Jacket's abilities are the same, except his human shield ability is absent and his melee attacks are slower.
Jacket's most recognizable ability (and a staple of the series) are his large collection of animal masks that greatly affect his playstyle. Prior to starting a level, Jacket can choose to wear one of these masks to grant him special perks for his levels. All of these masks except the Richard mask are unlockable by either achieving high scores or finding them in hidden spots of the game's levels. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number 2's Level Editor, all of Jacket's masks except the console and portable exclusive Russell mask are available from the start, but player-created levels can be customized to restrict Jacket to wearing a specific mask.
Jacket can wear the following masks:
- Richard (Rooster) - No Perks: Jacket's default mask. No special perks are granted.
- Rasmus (Owl) - An Eye For Secrets/No Perks: Unlocked by getting a high score in "The Metro". Makes it easier for Jacket to spot puzzle pieces and masks hidden in his levels. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor, no special perks are granted, since puzzle pieces and hidden masks are absent.
- Tony (Tiger) - Fists Of Fury: Unlocked by getting a high score in "No Talk". Gives Jacket lethal punches and faster ground executions. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor, it only grants Jacket killing punches.
- Aubrey (Pig) - More Guns/Bring Shotgun: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Overdose". Random weapon spawns will always spawn guns in Jacket's levels, making it an inverse of the Charlie mask. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor, it instead gives Jacket a double barrel shotgun at the start of a level, as random weapon spawns are absent.
- Don Juan (Horse) - Lethal Doors: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Decadence". Allows Jacket to kill enemies with door slams.
- Graham (Rabbit) - Walk Fast/Run Faster: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Tension". Increases Jacket's movement speed.
- Dennis (Wolf) - Start With Knife: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Full House". Gives Jacket a knife at the start of a level.
- George (Giraffe) - Look Further: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Clean Hit". Allows Jacket to zoom out further.
- Ted (Dog) - Dogs Don't Attack: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Neighbors". Despite being mandatory to kill, dogs will no longer be hostile towards Jacket.
- Rufus (Elephant) - Survive One Bullet/Survive Three Bullets: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Push it". Jacket will survive getting shot by a single bullet. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor, it instead allows Jacket to survive getting shot by three bullets, and is functionally identical to the Level Editor version of the Earl mask.
- Rami (Camel) - Extra Ammo/Get More Ammo: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Crackdown". Increases Jacket's ammo capacity when he picks up firearms.
- Willem (Ape) - Rip And Steal: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Hot & Heavy". Jacket's standing execution (ripping out an enemy's throat) allows him to snatch an enemy's weapon from them without needing to pick it up.
- Peter (Unicorn) - Quiet Gunshots: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Deadline". Reduces the noise of Jacket's gunshots, making it harder for enemies to be alerted.
- Zack (Frog) - Longer Combo Window: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Assault". Increases the time it takes for Jacket's combo multiplier to end.
- Oscar (Mole) - Darkness: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Vengeance". Gives levels a dark red filter, purely for aesthetic purposes.
- Rick (Fox) - Good Shot: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Safehouse". Regular enemies will instantly die when Jacket shoots them. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor, Jacket's accuracy with firearms is increased instead, since all regular enemies in the game instantly die from gunshots anyway.
- Brandon (Panther) - Walk Faster/Run Fastest: Unlocked by getting a high score in "Fun & Games". Greatly increases Jacket's movement speed, making it an upgrade to the Graham mask.
- Charlie (Octopus) - More Melee Weapons/No Perks: Found on the kitchen counter in "Safehouse". Random weapons spawns will always spawn melee weapons in Jacket's levels, making it an inverse of the Aubrey mask. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor, no special perks are granted, as random weapon spawns are absent.
- Louie (Chameleon) - Hard To Spot: Unlocked by completing the game. Makes it harder for enemies to detect Jacket.
- Phil (Fish) - French Translation/No Perks: Found on a box of masks in the Janitors' hideout in "Resolution". As a gag, all dialogue in a level will be translated to French. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor, no special perks are granted.
- Nigel (Bat) - Reversed Controls: Unlocked by discovering the secret ending in "Resolution". Reverses the controls of Jacket's movement.
- Earl (Walrus) - Survive Two Bullets/Survive Three Bullets: Found on Earl's corpse in "Overdose". Jacket will survive getting shot by two bullets, making it an upgrade of the Rufus mask. In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor, it instead allows Jacket to survive getting shot by three bullets, and is functionally identical to the Level Editor version of the Rufus mask.
- Jones (Crocodile) - More Gore: Found in the sewer next to Jones in "Full House". Makes Jacket's kills much bloodier and gorier, purely for aesthetic purposes.
- Carl (Locust) - Start With Drill: Found on Carl's corpse in "Push It". Gives Jacket a drill at the start of a level.
- Jake (Cobra) - Killing Throws: Found on Jake's corpse in "Hot & Heavy". Allows Jacket to kill enemies by throwing any kind of weapon at them.
- Richter (Rat) - Start With Silenced Uzi/Silenced Uzi: Found on a counter in the police station's evidence room in "Assault". Gives Jacket a suppressed Uzi at the start of a level.
- Russell (Bull) - Raging Bull: Exclusive to console and portable versions of Hotline Miami and found next to the dumpster at the end of "The Metro". Gives levels a black and white filter, purely for aesthetic purposes. This mask is absent in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number's Level Editor.
- The name "Jacket" was initially a fan-given nickname due to several characters in the series being named after distinctive physical traits (e.g. Nicke being nicknamed "Beard" or many characters being named after their own masks). Thus, Jacket's name was given due to his own letterman jacket. Eventually, the developers Jonatan Soderstrom and Dennis Wedin themselves, as well as other promotional material, adopted the nickname and became his official moniker.
- Due to the fact that the first and most prominent mask Jacket receives is a rooster mask nicknamed "Richard" and characters being named after their own masks, it has been theorized that Richard could possibly be his name.
- According to the developers, Jacket's design seems to have been based off of Axel Foley's outfit from the 1984 film Beverly Hills Cop.
- Since one of the inspirations behind Hotline Miami is Nicolas Winding Refn's 2011 film Drive, Jacket's character may or may not have been influenced by the protagonist of the film, the Driver (who, like Jacket, also happens to be nameless, mysterious blonde man of very few words who possesses a homicidal streak and wears a distinctive jacket).
- Despite being a silent protagonist, Dennis Wedin has stated that Jacket is not mute.
- Jacket appears as a playable crossover character in Overkill's PAYDAY 2. In the game, he communicates with his teammates with a tape recorder to make up for the fact that he doesn't appear to speak.
- Out of all of the playable characters in the series, Jacket by far has the largest body count, having killed over 370 people.
- As Jacket does not speak a line of dialogue within the games, he is the only playable character in the series to not be given a dialogue sprite.
- Although Jacket is shown to collect many animal masks throughout Hotline Miami, only three of his masks are put on display during his trial: a rooster mask, a tiger mask and a pig mask.
- According to the art book, Soderstrom and Wedin considered Jacket's Tony mask in the first game to be a "failure" as far as game design is concerned, believing that the mask was far too overpowered with no real drawbacks. They brought the mask's playstyle back in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number for Tony and the Son as a way to "redeem themselves" by making it so weapons cannot be picked up, which they believed to be a balanced and fun challenge for players. Despite this, Jacket's Tony mask in the Level Editor does not have this nerf.